Newport responds to Coastal Commission on fire rings

Newport Beach officials submitted a 139-page packet to the California Coastal Commission earlier this month, responding to questions that Coastal Commission staff had posed about beach fire rings, according to Corona del Mar Today.

The letter describes the history of beach fire rings in the city, reasons why no new air quality studies were conducted, difficulties in enforcement fire ring rules and how removal of the rings would create about 43,000 square feet of unobstructed open sand, along with other information that Coastal Commission staff requested.

Newport Beach submitted its original application in May to remove the city’s 60 beach fire rings, including 27 at Big Corona State Beach. The Coastal Commission staff, however, said the application was incomplete and sent a letter on June 11 asking for additional information.

The city’s resubmission included a five-page response letter, said Mary Locey, a city spokeswoman, in an email.

The letter identifies eight areas where Coastal Commission staff needed more information or elaboration, including how many people use the rings, who they are, and restrictions on what materials are burned. The city’s letter states that the rings are used by Newport Beach residents and visitors and are typically used most between Memorial Day and Labor Day on a first-come, first-served basis.

Coastal Commission staff asked whether the city conducted an air quality study supporting the removal of rings, or whether air samples had been taken.

“The City explored the possibility of conducting an air quality study and monitoring program, but the determination was made that it was not feasible,” the city’s response said. “Air quality consultants that were contacted indicated that a scientific study would not provide a definitive answer with respect to the source of the wood burning smoke as the same particulate matters are the same, be in private or public….”

Wind direction, fog, type of wood burned, time of day and time of year all would be variables in a monitoring program as well, the letter said.

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